This offense thing? Didn’t seem too difficult for Mesa High sophomore Manny Venzor on Friday night.
In his first-ever full game as a forward, Venzor banged home a pair of goals in leading Mesa to a 2-1 upset victory over Phoenix Desert Vista in a boys soccer game played in Ahwatukee.
A converted defender who said he felt no pressure playing on the front line, Venzor said this was a dream start to his new role.
“It’s a great experience. Anybody would like to go do this,” Venzor said. “I’m really happy that we got the victory because of my goals, but I can’t take all the credit for it. It’s the whole team.”
A night removed from a rough-and-tumble affair against nearby rival Tempe Corona del Sol, Desert Vista got a slow start on its home turf, leading coach Michael Rabasca to say the schedule was taxing.
“It’s three games in five days. It’s just too many games in too short a period of time. The AIA doesn’t get it. They don’t get soccer,” Rabasca said.
Desert Vista (2-1) did control a majority of the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Venzor’s heroics.
The Mesa sophomore’s first goal came after some stellar work by captain and junior midfielder Brian Perea. After sneaking behind the Desert Vista defense, Perea let a booming shot go that Desert Vista keeper Timothy O’Brien turned away. The rebound came right to Venzor, however, and he pounded the ball into the back of the net.
Desert Vista had some chances before the break as University of Washington-bound Danny Gavin, Tate Schmidt and Mark Munoz all just missed on solid opportunities, but Mesa then added to its advantage as Venzor was again in the right spot for an easy conversion.
This time it came with the clock showing less than three minutes before the break as a scramble ensued in front of the Desert Vista net. After a defender knocked the ball to the side of the goal mouth, Carlos Ibarra belted a low cross that somehow got through a host of defenders. Venzor was left alone, and tapped the ball across the line to give the visitors a 2-0 edge.
In the second half, with Gavin and other starters taking a breather, Cameron Rabasca came on and provided a spark for his father’s team. Rabasca snuck a shot inside the post that Mesa goalie Matt Winkler couldn’t get a hand on.
But late attempts by Desert Vista were thwarted and Venzor’s second marker proved to be the game-winner. The youngster thinks it’s a sign of things to come.
“This is just the beginning,” Venzor said.